Leon Trotsky, born Lev Davidovich Bronstein, was one of the architects of the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia.
Intelligent and driven, Trotsky was at one time seen as the obvious choice to lead the party, but this was prevented by his opponents, notably Stalin, and he was eventually thrown out of the country.
Trotsky was later assassinated by an NKVD agent, who struck him in the head with an ice-pick.
Following his death, Trotsky’s image was preserved in the form of a death-mask, created by Sergei Merkurov.
Whilst political memorabilia is not always valuable, that of figures who genuinely influenced the course of history often is.
The most recent piece of Trotsky memorabilia Christie’s sold was a personalised, signed photograph of him smiling for $14,400 - nearly triple the top estimate of $5,000.
Death masks are no exception. Indeed in 1979 the Worker’s Revolutionary Party in Britain paid a substantial sum for Trotsky’s death mask as an inspirational piece.
Excitingly, three death masks (and 11 copies) were also made of Trotsky’s comrade, Vladimir Lenin, by the very same sculptor. One of these masks is for sale now.